• U.S.

National Affairs: Our Children

3 minute read

Pausing outside the chamber of the House of Representatives, Franklin Roosevelt shouted laughingly to Secretary of Interior Ickes, who had eaten some crab meat for lunch and was wishing he hadn’t, “Hello, Grouch.” Then the President, in a grey cutaway, walked with smiling dignity into a joint session of Congress to deliver his eighth annual message on the State of the Nation.

There to hear him were almost every U. S. Senator** and Congressman, his Cabinet, uniformly (with the exception of Madam Secretary Perkins) clothed in turtle coats and striped grey trousers, and in the gallery children straddling laps, surrounded by mittens, rubbers, coats: Diana Hopkins, daughter of Secretary of Commerce Hopkins, the President’s grandchildren, Eleanor and Curtis Dall; his uncle, Frederic Delano, his wife, his mother.

Facing a battery of microphones, in an intimate voice which he seldom raised, Mr. Roosevelt delivered to Congress and his family an address on the State of the Nation which was mainly concerned with foreign affairs.

Said the President: “It becomes clearer and clearer that the future world will be a shabby and dangerous place to live in—yes, even for Americans to live in—if it is ruled by force in the hands of a few. . . .

“We must look ahead and see the possibilities for our children if the rest of the world comes to be dominated by concentrated force alone. . ..

“This year, in the light of continuing world uncertainty, I am asking the Congress for Ar.my and Navy increases which are based not on panic but on common sense. They are not as great as enthusiastic alarmists seek. They are not as small as unrealistic persons claiming superior information would demand. …” What the President left to conjecture, as he asked the nation to pay for the greatest peacetime military force in the U. S., was what the U. S. would be called upon to do if the “vicious, ruthless, destructive” forces of the world were triumphant.

General reaction of the U. S. to the speech resembled that of Uncle Frederic Delano, and 14-year-old Alice, daughter of Congressman Voorhis of California, who said of the whole proceeding: “I thought it was sort of boring but interesting.”

**Notable absentee: Idaho’s Borah. Said he: “It’s dangerous to listen to Roosevelt, because he could recite an example in algebra and make it interesting. When I want to know what he said I have to sit down and read it. Be assured I will read his speech.”

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